How to Avoid Brush Strokes

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Visible brush strokes can ruin an otherwise perfect paint job. These strokes make the surfaces of painted walls and objects appear messy and unprofessional. There are several reasons for the appearance of brush strokes. Paint thickness, brush quality or length, and painting technique are a few of the most common problems. To avoid brush strokes on a dried finished surface, you should know which products to use, how to properly prepare the surface and how to apply the paint.

How to Avoid Brush Strokes
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Sand Before Painting

Sanding projects before painting can remove any previous imperfections that can cause brush strokes to show, like in an old layer of paint if you are painting over a previously painted surface. Use an orbital sander with 120-grit sand paper to save time, or use a sanding block if you do not have an orbital sander. Brush the sanding dust from the surface with a dry scrub brush. This will help with paint adherence. If you do have brush strokes after painting, use a fine sand paper to remove them before adding a second coat of paint.

Professional Materials

DIY is about saving money by doing the work yourself -- not skimping on quality. Choose a professional grade brush made of material that is recommended for your chosen type of paint. Cheaper brushes can cause brush strokes because the bristles are not as thick or made of a lesser material. If you are using oil paint, choose a China bristle brush; if you are using latex paint, use a polyester brush. Choose a brush with bristles at least 2 inches long, as shorter bristles cause brush strokes because of the shorter length of each stroke. Using a roller eliminates the need for a brush, depending on the project. Smaller details may need a brush to reach where the roller cannot.

Extend the Flow

Paint additives keep the paint wet for a longer period of time, allowing the paint to meld before drying. Add a flow extender paint additive to the paint according to the manufacturer's instructions. You can also correct mistakes when you see them, without waiting for a second coat. This will leave a more even layer of paint with a decreased chance of leaving brush strokes.

Keep it Smooth

Dip the brush into the paint to cover only 1/3 of the bristle length. Brush the paint over the surface in horizontal strokes, allowing only the paint-dipped section of the bristles to touch the surface. Lay the object flat before painting if possible. Walls and other permanent structures cannot be moved, of course, but doors and furniture should be laid flat for painting. Smooth over long horizontal brush strokes with short wispy strokes, lifting the brush at the end of each stroke. This will help to eliminate marks at the end of strokes. Work quickly when smoothing out strokes, as brush strokes become permanent once the paint has dried.


Ashley Kurz

Ashley Kurz, a full-time professional writer since 2009, publishes on various informational websites. An expert in the craft field specializing in craft-related topics, Kurz has taught arts and crafts for group therapy sessions.